Tomlin Takes

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Tomlin's Takes on all things Hall of Fame

A true honor: It's a special week in Steelers history, with the team playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, just days before the team will have five members of the organization enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell will be enshrined as members of the Class of 2020, and Alan Faneca and Bill Nunn as members of the Class of 2021.

Coach Mike Tomlin looks at this week's game not just as another opportunity to see the talent on the team, but to represent those men who will be enshrined.

"We're excited about having an opportunity to do it," said Tomlin. "A game that is very important to our organization where five members of this organization are being inducted. It's an honor for us to participate in it because of that."

Sharing something special: Tomlin knows what it means to follow in the footsteps of a Hall of Famer.

Bill Cowher, the man who coached the black and gold before Tomlin, will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday as a member of the Class of 2020.

And Tomlin has nothing but respect for Cowher, a man who he has a strong relationship with.

"Our interactions over the years have always been very warm," said Tomlin. "I've always been appreciative of that. You can feel his support of us. He has always given me space to do the things that the job requires.

"Anybody that's held jobs like this understands it's somewhat lonely and that's just the nature of it. Those that have done it are respectful of that and allow people to do what it is they need to do. I have been really appreciative of our relationship and have always felt his support. 

"I was very aware of what he was able to accomplish and respectful of it. I realized the monumental challenge it was going to be to hold up the standard."

Cowher gave Tomlin a little help to do it. He left him a small gift in his refrigerator at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, an Iron City beer. The beer is still there.

"It's still in there," said Tomlin with a smile. "I am going to leave that for the next guy."

A scientific approach: The other member of the Steelers contingent headed to the Hall of Fame this year that has touched Tomlin is Bill Nunn.

Nunn, the legendary Steelers scout, is already officially a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being enshrined, along with eight others posthumously, during a special ceremony, 'Hall of Famer Forever,' at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in April.

Tomlin's relationship with Nunn was a tight one, a man he learned from both about the game and away from the game.

"I am sure there are a lot more veteran guys, senior guys, that have a perspective as far as his impact," said Tomlin. "I often have good conversations with Art (Rooney II) regarding his impact and others, particularly during that era of the 70s. I just appreciated the mentorship I got from him, the wisdom I got from him. The time spent. All of us that had an opportunity to spend time with him really enjoyed it.

"Me personally I loved how scientific he was in terms of the evaluation of talent, or pedigree, and the things he focused on in terms of the evaluation of athletes. Many of the things he taught me I use until this day and probably will continue to use and share with others. He was a legendary talent evaluator. His enshrinement is well deserved.

"He had certain things, 'isms' if you will. He didn't like tall offensive linemen because of bend, or potential lack there of. He always looked how guys had weight distributed on the bottom of their shoes. He wanted guys to have the instep part of their shoe to be more worn than the outer parts because that was a good power source for directional changing and things of that nature. Just a bunch of unique tidbits that I could go on forever. Just tools of the trade and really examples of his expertise in that area."

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